Never again 9/11

On September 11th, 2001, the world changed forever. Anyone of us who was living at that time can remember where we were when the news hit. It was clear that it wasn’t just “another disaster”; it wasn’t a force of nature that was bigger than us all. It was a great evil beyond our ability to fathom. 

It changed the future of everything for all of us, both as individuals and collectively as a society. It was an act of betrayal against the basic human trust we put in one another – that some lines can’t be crossed. 

9/11 also changed intelligence agencies all around the world in the way threats are perceived and how we read reports. Since then, many preventative policies have been set in place, like airport and public facility security protocols and procedures. 

A few weeks before 9/11, I had just finished my basic training with the Israeli defense force. We are rigorously trained to fight terror and eliminate threats, and trained to keep the country safe and protect its borders. We felt invisible and proud to serve (because reality didn’t hit us hard yet). 

But on that day, terror became present in each and every one of us. That was the point of it, in the eyes of the savages who planned and committed this attack, to instill fear and change the political agenda. They succeeded. It can be undone. 

Where the Twin Towers once were, there are now big holes in the ground as a monument. Nothing can be built on top of it, and these holes in the ground will continue to represent the tragedy forever. 

So, how does all of that connect with Krav Maga? 

Some of the 9/11 attackers had received martial arts training. In the months leading up to the attacks, the hijackers who were part of the core group known as the “muscle hijackers,” engaged in intensive physical fitness training and martial arts training. They took classes to improve their physical fitness, coordination, and combat skills in preparation. However, their level of martial arts proficiency was not particularly advanced or specialized. The primary goal of their training was to be physically capable of carrying out the hijackings and any subsequent attacks, rather than becoming highly skilled at fighting.

As a trainer, I always consider the motivation of each student who comes to my gym. I always ask what brings you to training with us? Although I don’t believe anyone with ill intentions will likely share the truth, it’s still important to ask and check all the boxes before we even start training. 

The baseline philosophy of Krav Maga is “so that one may walk in peace,” which means I will never train anyone who wishes to hurt others or has the potential of misusing their knowledge. 

Great knowledge in the wrong hands is always a bad idea for the safety of others. 

Acceptable Damage

When you are at a “dead end,” meaning you can’t avoid a fight, and you are dealing with a crazy person with a purpose, you know there will be damage on the other side of the incident. Sometimes, the only options to choose from are: “a horrible disaster or a much greater disaster.” If the only options are bad, we will need to think about what would be the least horrible option. 

Now imagine that on the plane headed towards the World Trade Center, there were a couple of passengers or crew members who were well-trained fighters and could manage to subdue the terrorist hijackers before the full takeover of the plane. 

Wouldn’t that be amazing? Yes, but that happy ending is mostly found in scripted big Hollywood action films.

What if some people on board had the courage to resist, with or without training, but determined to stop the attack? Could they help steer the plane so as not to hit the towers?

Perhaps that would cause a plane crash that could likely kill all passengers but result in a lesser catastrophe.

What if ALL the passengers resisted and fought to keep the plane safe? Perhaps some would have died, but most may have not. It would be a disaster but not as nearly as horrific as what we know today as 9/11.

I can continue speculating with many “what if” scenarios, but it’s not productive. No one, before this event, could have ever imagined such an insane attack. When we need to “Save the day,” we don’t get an invite by email ahead of time so we can best prepare. Instead, we find ourselves having to act outside of our comfort zone.

As we say in the military, “We are best prepared for the previous war.” 

Heroic acts are based on moments in time that prevailed when YOU were in the right (or wrong) place in the right (wrong) time. It may be reality, or destiny, that chooses you to act on behalf of the greater good. If you do nothing, lives may be lost. If you try to do something, you might save the day or get hurt, slowing the attacker down. With enough people with the kind of mindset that tries, the survival chances for everyone can significantly increase. 

״כשהגלים מתחזקים החזקים מתגלים״

This phrase is a play on words in both Hebrew and English; in context, it means “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.” In other words, when the situation becomes difficult, the strong and enduring will become fully engaged!

Never again isn’t just a hashtag for 9/11. It’s about doing all we can to learn from the past and not allow catastrophe to happen again. And it’s best to act preemptively.

Not only heroic acts count as amazing. But helping others, in any form we can, counts too. Small gestures in large quantities would make such a huge difference in the world.

Do something amazing,

Tsahi Shemesh,
Founder & CEO
Krav Maga Experts